Aspirational identities are an important component of individuals’ self-stories, and can have far-reaching consequences in the present. In the case of these communities, the process of divination—or becoming “like God”—structures and gives meaning to the past and present, as well as projecting forward into the future. The past is given meaning in relation to the ongoing process of spiritual formation, tying together disparate experiences with a unifying logic of progressive attainment.
In the present, the image of the “enlightened self” serves as a kind of compass, motivating and constraining behavior. Practitioners are motivated to undertake lines of action that they believe will move them towards their aspirations. The enlightened self also provides a framework and basis for evaluating the current self.
From this perspective then each individual has a “repertoire of possible selves that can be viewed as the cognitive manifestation of enduring goals, aspirations, motivations, fears and threats”.
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